Parenting… it’s HARD!!! Like I know everyone tells you that, and I know our own mums have told us since day dot that being a mum is the hardest job you’ll ever do… but I kind of thought they said that just to make you feel guilty. Turns out everyone was telling the truth! It’s SO hard! Sure there’s a natural instinct there, kinda like riding a bike, takes a bit of practice but the skill’s there. Yeah, that’s it, motherhood is like riding a bike, except the bike’s on fire, and the ground’s on fire, and you’re on fire too… simples!!!
The emotions. Oh. My. Days. The emotions. Again, you know they’re coming, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for the range and extremities of them!!! First time I heard my daughter cry – fresh out the womb – it was literally the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard, never have I been so relieved and overjoyed… few weeks later that same sound has a very different effect on me! Especially at 4am! I like to think I’m pretty calm, I’ve got my shit together, I’m a rational woman. However… sometimes, at 4am, when I’ve tried everything to stop that cry, sometimes the best I can come up with is to cry with her (at a much lower volume obvs!)
Sex. Ok. So I’m guessing this is linked to the previous point. I’ll be honest, when the midwife came round in hospital to talk to me about contraception I actually laughed at her. When she explained that I should wait at least 6 weeks to have sex , I took the advice with a pinch of salt. To add context to that – I mean, I regarded it in the same way that you’d take advice to wait at least 30 seconds after eating a full Sunday dinner before running a marathon. Like it’s basic common sense and isn’t anywhere near as close to the truth as it needs to be, and besides, you’d have to be insane to WANT to do that. Anyway… I got home from hospital and was VERY surprised to discover that I really, really, REALLY wanted sex with my hubby (good job haha). Now I don’t think it was so much the sex bit, I think it was more to do with the overwhelming emotion you’ve both been through, and just knowing that you’ve made something so amazing together. There’s just a whole new level of love and intimacy between you. Anyway… ride it out (not literally… drs advise against it remember!) trust me, it passed pretty quick. About a week later I wanted to kill him and sex is now officially the last thing on my mind again!!
The change in relationship with my body. Ok, so this is one I’ve really struggled with. First day out of hospital (I was in for 10 days) I stood in front of my husband and full length mirror in my massive Bridget Jones pants and declared that I didn’t think my body had weathered the storm too badly all things considered. This feeling passed waaaaay quicker than the urge to have sex did 😂 On one hand the rational side of me knew I should have a newfound respect for my body – not only had I just grown another human, but I was also producing all the food that tiny human would need to grow. The reality was (is) very different though, the unrational side of me won on this one – cue lots of googling ‘how long will I look pregnant for after giving birth’ – seriously!!! Like I knew my belly wasn’t going to spring back into its previous state (wasn’t the best pre pregnancy tbh!) but I wasn’t expecting to still look 6months pregnant 4 weeks (and counting) after baby was here. Also, after a c section I am now sporting the latest in Mum fashion, the overhang pouch… trust me, the words no woman wants to hear EVER are “can you just lift your tummy up for me so I can check your wound is healing ok” FML. I’ve lost track of the number of tantrums I’ve had picking outfits, because at a time when you literally just want to wear a big baggy bin bag you also have to contend with…
VISITORS!! Hundreds of them. People who you haven’t seen for years, long lost relatives, everyone suddenly wants to come and see you. Which didn’t help me when I felt like a sack of potatoes!!! I could have done with a PA to book all our visitors in, in hindsight I think we should have left the first few weeks clear and just got ourselves into some sort of routine. Instead we had morning and afternoon visitors almost every day of hubby’s paternity leave, and whilst it was genuinely lovely to see everyone, I think if I did it again I’d definitely hold off for a few weeks before inviting everyone round.
The level of multitasking required. Who knew I was such an expert at doing things one handed?? Seriously this should be a sport! There will come a point where you are faced with impossible decisions such as – wee yourself or stay to change screaming baby because she’s weed herself (hint… always go for a wee, your pelvic floor isn’t at its best right now – TRUST me on this, cleaning up your own dribble of wee off the floor is a new low!) You will be amazed how you learn to navigate round these!
Women are AMAZING!!! Now, I know you all know that, but this is coming from someone who, I’ll admit, rolls her eyes at the level of “feminism” we’ve got going on at the moment. It’s not so much that I have an issue with feminism, of course I don’t, I just think the concept of it is a bit ridiculous. I’ve never understood why we need the word… like you’re either sexist or you’re not. There’s no word for people who aren’t racist or aren’t homophobic, they’re just normal, I don’t understand why we need one for people who aren’t sexist! To be fair I don’t get why we need the words racist, homophobic or sexist either – I think the word ‘idiot’ is fine for all of them. Anyway… I digress!!! Women. Amazing. Like obviously you just grew a human, pretty impressive. What has astounded me more though is the level of solidarity between women when you talk children. Seriously, from the moment you join a baby board you have a whole new network. After Isla was born the amount of support I got from other women literally blew me away! I posted about struggling with breastfeeding – I had so many messages offering support. I said it’s hard being a mum, again, no strings attached opportunities to vent without judgement came flooding in. On our first trip out the house to a garden centre I pushed my pram next to a lady with a toddler, she must have sensed my fear as it looked like my little bundle was about to scream the place down (she could well have heard me whispering please don’t cry over and over again 😂), I will never forget her reaction – she smiled at me and said “Oh a little one, I’ve been there!” When I explained it was our first trip out she said “oh wow, you’re doing amazing” A complete stranger. In a world where we criticise everything and everyone it’s really lovely to see that on this, at least, we have each other’s backs
Night feeds. I meannnnn these are a killer! You are a whole new level of tired that you didn’t even know existed and somehow you have to continue to operate like a well oiled machine to get your new bundle fed, winded, changed and settled again so you can try and get some sleep before it’s time to restart the whole process. Night feed tiredness is like jet lag on steroids. Add some screaming in to the mix and you have something that I honestly think could be used as a form of torture. Waterboarding? Ha! Easy!!! Screaming baby at 4am after 2 weeks of no sleep… I’ll take the waterboarding!! You REALLY have to dig deep to get through those first few weeks!
Breastfeeding. Ok, so going in to pregnancy I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Breast is best and all that jazz, plus it’s natural right? And costs nothing… right? And… makes you thin… right???!!! Let me just stop you right there! First off – it’s ‘natural’ I have honestly lost count of the number of people who have manhandled my baby and my boobs trying to get her to latch on. Literally forcing my nipple in to her little mouth. It might be natural, but let me assure you it doesn’t always come naturally! Secondly… it costs nothing??? I spent £450 on a hands free breast pump because, well, I need to use my hands! I actually ended up expressing and then bottle feeding the expressed milk after some feeding nightmares in hospital meant I needed to monitor how much she was having, so still had to pay for bottles, sterilisers etc etc. It makes you thin… well, right now I look like a sack of potatoes! Maybe in time, like if I express til she’s 20, perhaps I’ll get to a size 10, who knows! Other thing is… it hurts like a bitch!!!! Seriously!!! I never knew my boobs could be the source of so much pain! My nipples feel like they have needles in them, and I’m always surprised to look down and discover that my breasts aren’t actually on fire! Oh, and the first few seconds of your little darling latching on and suckling… genuinely think it’d feel the same if it you were holding a crocodile to your breast!
Love. Ok, so despite all of the above somehow you will love the tiny little terrorist living in your house more than you ever imagined possible. Even at 4am when you just need to sleep, when you’re crying because they won’t stop crying, when you see that little face looking at you, for a second, literally nothing else matters. The tiredness, the fact that your boobs feel like they’re about to spontaneously combust, the fact that you have just weed on the floor… none of it compares to the love you feel for the source of all these problems!! And when you get up the next day, you will spend the hours you’re awake in a zombie like state gazing adoringly at your tormentor, and telling them just how much you love them ♥️♥️♥️